How do I sponsor a migrant worker?
The certificate of sponsorship
This page explains what a certificate of sponsorship is under the points-based system.
On this page
What is a certificate of sponsorship?
A certificate of sponsorship is not a paper certificate. It is a 'virtual document', which contains a unique reference number. You must give this reference number to a migrant you wish to employ because it is will be key part of any application under Tier 2 and Tier 5 for permission to come to the UK if they are overseas (known as 'entry clearance'), or permission to stay in the UK if they are already here (known as 'leave to remain'). It is also a key part of any application for worker authorisation made by a Croatian national.
You must use the sponsorship management system to assign a certificate of sponsorship.
See the section on costs to find out the fees for certificates of sponsorship.
Certificates of sponsorship in the creative sector
In the creative sector, sometimes a migrant is needed to perform a number of engagements at various venues. If you are sponsoring a single migrant (for example, if you are an agent), and there are no more than 14 calendar days between each engagement, you can assign a single certificate of sponsorship to cover the whole period.
If the migrant is sponsored by the individual venues, producers or promoters, each sponsor can assign a certificate of sponsorship to cover its own show. These certificates of sponsorship must not overlap and there must be no more than 14 calendar days between engagements.
If there is a gap of more than 14 calendar days between engagements, the migrant will have to either leave the UK and apply for permission to enter again. Alternatively, it may be possible for them to apply inside the UK for further permission to stay (known as leave to remain).
These certificates of sponsorship can include any rehearsal periods required. You must make sure that you assign certificates of sponsorship only for the period required. If we find that a certificate has been assigned wrongly, we will take appropriate action against you.
Group certificates of sponsorship
Under the creative and sporting category of Tier 5, you must give each individual migrant a certificate of sponsorship number. Then you must link all of the individual certificates to a group in the sponsorship management system. Membership of a group may include:
- the migrant's entourage - this can include people whose work is directly related to the employment of an entertainer, cultural artist, sportsperson or a dramatic production, if they have proven technical or other specialist skills; and/or
- all the members of a unit company such as a ballet company or other dance group, circus troupe, orchestra or other group of musicians, or theatre group who want to come to the UK to fulfil a contractual obligation to perform as a group here.
You will only have to pay for 1 certificate of sponsorship.
Multiple entry certificates of sponsorship
Multiple entry certificates of sponsorship may be assigned under any category of Tiers 2 and 5. . If you tick the 'multiple entry' box on their certificate of sponsorship it does not affect the migrant's ability to travel, but it does help to indicate their intentions and likely travel plans to us. This can be useful if you expect them to travel in and out of the UK on a regular basis.
This type of certificate is not needed by a migrant who wants to travel overseas for leisure or domestic purposes, or who is based in the UK and has to travel overseas on business. See the Business and special visitors section for more information.
This type of certificate is also not needed if the migrant is a Croatian national as they can move and reside freely in any EU member state.
If the migrant does not have permission to enter or has less than 6 months' permission to stay, that permission ends if they leave the common travel area (the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands). The migrant will not be able to re-enter the UK with that permission, and must apply for new permission to enter with a new certificate of sponsorship.
Do it online
A 'virtual document' assigned by a licensed sponsor to a migrant who wishes to work for them in the UK. The migrant must quote the certificate of sponsorship reference number when applying for permission to enter or remain in the UK under Tier 2 or Tier 5 of the points-based system or, where the migrant is a Croatian national, when applying for worker authorisation.
A 'virtual document' assigned by an education provider (which must be a licensed sponsor) to a migrant. The migrant must quote the reference number for their confirmation of acceptance for studies when they apply for permission to study in the UK under Tier 4 of the points-based system.
An IT system used by organisations that sponsor migrants under the points-based system. It allows sponsors to allocate certificates of sponsorship to migrants, carry out the administrative functions necessary to comply with their sponsor obligations and duties, and communicate information to us.